In early 2012, Mike Weybret began documenting the travels, adventures and shenanigans of his friends and himself under the banner Do Something Cool. Soon after that simple yet powerful phrase began to shape shift into what it represents today, a stunning storytelling collective platform made of travelers across the globe. Coined as, “your digital campfire,” Do Something Cool is a place for exploreres young and old to share their passions for adventure through photography, art and writing.
Over the last six years, Mike has fostered a space that captures the feeling that is the epicenter of why we all travel – to learn from those who came before us and inspire those who come next. For our summer road stories series, we asked Mike to share one of his most memorable travel experiences. He settled on one we are all too familiar with – a breakdown. Enjoy the tails of, The John Muricale, and the lessons our dear friend learned along the way.
The Wyoming Break Down
By Mike Weybret
RVers, road warriors, van lifers, whatever we decide to call ourselves, are generally a pretty fearless bunch. But there is one thing that can make even the most seasoned of highwaymen shudder. A demon so daunting, so aggravating, so ominous even the non-superstitious travelers will bow and whisper to say it: car/RV trouble. We can stay on top of maintenance and keep our fingers crossed, but the breakdown demons come for all of us sooner or later, it is just a matter of time. When the breakdown demons came for me, they got me good.
It was early summer and I was slowly making my way back across the U.S. toward California after a few months on the road. Because of some nagging issues with my engine running hot (I drive an 82’ Toyota Chinook and it was close to triple digits most of the last week) I was doing most of my driving at night. One night, I decided to make a strong push in the dark to Jackson, Wyoming, about seven hours away. I was well into my drive when I heard a very loud bang and felt the back of my car drop to the ground. The axel shaft on my back left wheel had separated from the rear differential, but I didn’t know that at the time. All I knew was that sparks were coming from the back end of my camper and my back left tire was rolling beside me, on fire, while I screamed bloody murder.
There was of course no cell reception on this middle-of-nowhere road. Three hours passed before anyone else drove by, and another two before a tow truck could make it to me. I was able to get a free tow to my destination. My AAA card gives me 100 miles of towing for free, and we were 98 mi from Jackson – A stroke of luck! I soon found out my car, not quite a total goner (but close), would be in the shop for 3-8 weeks. By the time I received this news and I was finally able to sit down and catch my breath on a bench at a public park, it was nearly 5pm the next day. But here, my friends, is where things started looking up.
As a well traveled young man, I knew that the best way to handle any misfortune is to flip the situation on its head and turn it into a positive. My RV, which I lived in, was broken down and stuck in Jackson, Wyoming. Which meant that I had just become the proud owner of a small one bed, no bath apartment in one of America’s finest tourism destinations, Jackson, Wyoming! Just when I thought my months long road trip was coming to an end, it was actually just getting started.
I soon made friends, learned the rules of hitchhiking, and took to the busy work of making my accidental summer in Wyoming one of the best I’ve ever had. The moral here is clear, but allow me a little linguistic self indulgence: all roads are full of twists, turns, hills to climb, dead ends and pot holes. We can’t control what the highway of life throws our way, all we can do is take it in stride and enjoy the ride, hopefully you have enough time to pull over and check out the view. And folks, Jackson, WY has a pretty damn nice view.
This summer we’ll be featuring road stories from fellow travelers. To keep up with the series, check in every Friday for a new, inspiring road life adventure. Check out last weeks feature, This Travel Photographer Remembers Her Endless Summer 90’s Childhood and leave us a comment in the section below if you have a tale you’d like to share!